Friday, September 19, 2014

Bar vows sedition protest march sooner than later

By V. ANBALAGAN


Leong speaking to the media at the press conference following the Extraordinary General Meeting in Kuala Lumpur today. - The Malaysian Insider pic by Najjua Zulkefli, September 19, 2014.

Leong speaking to the media at the press conference following the Extraordinary General Meeting in Kuala Lumpur today. - The Malaysian Insider pic by Najjua Zulkefli, September 19, 2014.























A peaceful walk by lawyers to protest the Sedition Act will take place soon, following the overwhelming approval by members of the the Malaysian Bar Council of a resolution to repeal the law, its chairman Christopher Leong said.
"A deadline of three or six months is too long. The walk will happen soon," he told reporters after chairing the Bar's EGM at Wisma MCA in Jalan Ampang today.
Leong said the council needed to look into logistics like venue and time to enforce the resolution.
This will be the third walk organised in the last seven years.
Leong said that 973 members voted in favour of the motion to repeal the law and for the council to hold the walk.
"Only 13 voted against it while no one abstained," he said,  adding that the turnout at the EGM was very strong.

He said this reflected members' sentiment on the use or abuse of the law by the government against members of the public.
Leong said the Bar was against the use of the law because "you cannot stop discussion, debate and criticism as these are integral part of a thinking and maturing process".
He said there must be public discourse for mutual understanding and lasting harmony.

"We cannot walk on egg shells with draconian laws hanging over our head.
"The way forward is to engage like debating, discussion and even making an argument," he added.
He said that was the reason the council had started a campaign to get the law repealed apart from organising the walk.
He said the Bar was also against jail terms imposed by the courts on those found guilty of sedition.
"The custodial sentence of 12 months jail today on Adam Adli Abdul Halim is wholly disproportionate with the offence," he said.

Leong said the government had promised to abolish the Sedition Act in July 2012 and the council was hopeful the legislation would be removed from the statute books soon.
"We expected a replacement Act to be ready at the year end but now we are told it will be next year. Too much time has passed but we are prepared to wait," he said.
Leong also clarified that the council was not involved in the drafting of the National Harmony Bill.
"It is a Bill from the National Unity Consultative Council (NUCC) and we were only asked by its law and policy sub-committee to assist in the drafting because they did not have the resource," he said.
Leong said the contents of the Bill reflected the views of the NUCC.
"We also did not circulate the Bill or place the draft on our website and any accusation against the Bar is unfounded," he said.
Leong said the draft could be accessed at the NUCC website.
Retired chief justice Tun Abdul Hamid Mohamad was among those who claimed that the Bill was drafted by the council and should not be accepted. – September 19, 2014.
- See more at: http://www.themalaysianinsider.com/malaysia/article/bar-promises-anti-sedition-law-protest-march-will-take-place-soon#sthash.fSuaJ0QC.dpuf

Catholic Church renews ‘Allah’ fight, seeks review of apex court decision



SEPTEMBER 19, 2014



The Catholic Church is seeking a review of the decision that effectively bars “Allah” to non-Muslims, over three issues. — Picture by Choo Choy MayThe Catholic Church is seeking a review of the decision that effectively bars “Allah” to non-Muslims, over three issues. — Picture by Choo Choy

KUALA LUMPUR, Sept 19 — The Catholic Church is asking the Federal Court to reconsider its refusal to entertain the appeal against the Home Ministry ban on the use of “Allah” in its Herald newsletter, arguing that the apex court failed to consider key legal issues in its decision.
The application for review was submitted by the Catholic Church’s lawyer, Benjamin Dawson, this afternoon, national news agency Bernama reported.
According to Dawson, the Catholic Church is seeking a review of the decision that effectively bars “Allah” to non-Muslims, over three issues.
It contends that the Federal Court did not consider key constitutional questions raised in the appeal application and that the Home Ministry ban was predicated on theological reasons rather than administrative.
“The third ground is that the Herald's case is one of the most important constitutional cases to have come before our court, particularly where minority rights are concerned,” Dawson was quoted as saying in the Bernama report.
The lawyer also insisted that it was of public interest that the Federal Court hear the Catholic Church’s appeal.
On June 23, the Federal Court rejected the Catholic Church’s application to appeal against the Home Ministry’s ban on the word “Allah” in the Herald, in a 4-3 decision by the seven-member bench.
The decision effectively made the preceding Court of Appeal ruling from the previous year the binding decision in the matter and ended a protracted Muslim-Christian tussle over the Arabic word for God.
The Court of Appeal ruled last year that “Allah” was not integral to the Christian faith and that the home minister was justified in banning the Herald from describing God with the Arabic word on grounds of national security and public order.
In July, Chief Justice Tun Ariffin Zakaria reduced the controversial appellate court finding to an opinion rather than a binding precedent, saying in his written judgment that the contentious government ban over non-Muslim use of the word was not based on religious grounds.
Despite this, however, the Court of Appeal’s opinion has already influenced one case involving Christians and “Allah”, when a High Court struck out the Sabah Sidang Injil Borneo’s (SIB) 2007 lawsuit against the Home Ministry for confiscating three boxes of Malay-language Christian publications containing the word “Allah”.
Another, involving a Sarawak Christian’s challenge against the Home Ministry seizure of compact discs bearing the Arabic word, is still pending.
The “Allah” issue began in the High Court in 2009 and culminated in attacks on houses of worship across the country after the Catholic Church won a brief victory on December 31 the same year.
- See more at: http://www.themalaymailonline.com/malaysia/article/catholic-church-renews-allah-fight-seeks-review-of-apex-court-decision#sthash.NL5A0FHH.dpuf

Malaysia risks becoming ‘unequal and polarised’ in terms of income, economist warns



BY MELISSA CHI
SEPTEMBER 17, 2014

People are seen in front of a CIMB bank office in Kuala Lumpur in this February 25, 2014 file photo. — Reuters picPeople are seen in front of a CIMB bank office in Kuala Lumpur in this February 25, 2014 file photo. — Reuters pic


KUALA LUMPUR, Sept 17 — Malaysia risks becoming unequal and polarised in terms of income unless government policy is overhauled, according to Asian Development Bank economist, Dr Jayant Menon.
Distortions in the economy caused by government policies have led to higher costs of living which is one reason  why the majority of Malaysians will retire with only small amounts in their Employees Provident Fund (EPF), he argued.
“A lot of this increased cost of living can be traced to bad government policies that distort pricing and investment,” he said.
He cited what he called the “failed national car project” which resulted in Malaysia being one of the most expensive places in the world to own a car.
Other government linked companies also add to distortions and inequality, on top of crowding out private investment, he added.  
He said the low amounts saved in the EPF  reflect of the high cost of living in Malaysia, which are also apparent from high level of household debt, he added.
“Unless there is a major overhaul in policy soon, Malaysia is likely to become the most unequal and polarised high income country in the world,” he warned.
According to news reports, as at December last year, 69 per cent of EPF contributors at the age of 54 had less than RM50,000 in their retirement fund,
For them  retirement is likely to be grim.
“Unless retirees have other sources of income, such as through private investment or if they remain dependent on support from children or the extended family, RM50,000 in their EPF will mean a very simple and meager living in their twilight years,” Menon said.
For the most part the small funds reflect low salaries.
Seventy-five per cent of households in Malaysia earn RM5,000 or less Suhaimi Ilias, chief economist at Maybank Investment Bank  said, adding that  53 per cent of households earn RM3,000 or less per month and about 67 per cent earn RM4,000 or less a month.
“There are also jobs that are low on basic pay (hence low EPF contribution) and more on commissions, especially in ‘sales’,” he said.
According to the Statistics Department, the median household income for 2012 is RM3,626 while the median salary for Malaysians was RM1,500 for both 2012 and 2011.
Suhaimi said it would be more accurate to judge retirees financial health based on total savings rather than just “EPF savings”, such as deposits at banks, investments in public investment funds and private unit trusts, other assets especially rising value and liquid; properties, insurance, stocks, and bonds.
But there is no data on “total savings”.
Suhaimi noted however, if EPF is their only savings, then “the situation is rather grim” as the living costs continue to go up and to survive, he said they may have to continue working even after the official retirement age.  
“The role of extended family is also pertinent, with children ‘chipping in’ to help their ageing parents financially, besides targeted - bit limited - financial assistances by government,” he added.
According to the EPF, an active member at age 54 has an average savings of RM167,000 in 2013.
For non-active members—those who contribute less than once a year—the average is RM26,000.
Both figures are below the recommended savings of RM196,800 ,which is based on the a minimal RM820 spending a month for 20 years.
- See more at: http://www.themalaymailonline.com/malaysia/article/malaysia-risks-becoming-unequal-and-polarised-in-terms-of-income-economist#sthash.zYhrHhup.dpuf

Pro-Bumi privileges the odd one out in equality under constitution, says law professor



BY AMIN KHAIRUDDIN
SEPTEMBER 19, 2014


Universiti Malaya law professor Dr Azmi Sharom says that race-based preferential treatment may only be carried out if these are expressly mentioned in the country’s highest law, such as university and civil service quotas, native land rights, and Islamic religious positions. — Picture by Siow Feng SawUniversiti Malaya law professor Dr Azmi Sharom says that race-based preferential treatment may only be carried out if these are expressly mentioned in the country’s highest law, such as university and civil service quotas, native land rights, and Islamic religious positions. — Picture by Siow Feng Saw
KUALA LUMPUR, Sept 19 ― Privileges for Bumiputera communities are the exception in the Federal Constitution that otherwise consistently upholds equality for all Malaysians, Universiti Malaya law professor Dr Azmi Sharom said yesterday.
Azmi also said that race-based preferential treatment may only be carried out if these are expressly mentioned in the country’s highest law, such as university and civil service quotas, native land rights, and Islamic religious positions.
“The rule is Article 8, the exception is Article 153,” he told a forum on Malaysian unity here last night.
The law professor also pointed out that fundamental liberties are listed early on in the Federal Constitution.
In the constitution, Article 8 specifies that “all persons are equal before the law and entitled to the equal protection of the law”. The article further explains that “unless expressly authorized by this Constitution, there shall be no discrimination against citizens on the ground only of religion, race, descent, place of birth or gender in any law,”
Article 153 of the Federal Constitution states that it is the responsibility of the Yang di-Pertuan Agong to safeguard the special position of the Malays and the natives of Sabah and Sarawak, including the aforementioned quotas.
When asked if pro-Bumiputera policies like the reservation of some reported Mass Rapid Transit (MRT) work packages for Bumiputera companies fell under the special measures allowed by the Constitution, Azmi said he was unsure.
But he said it was important that such questions are allowed to be asked.
The law professor who is facing a sedition charge for expressing his legal opinion on the 2009 Perak crisis added that Article 153 should also not be be off-limits for debates, but insisted that he was not calling for its removal or amendment.
“Whatever policies that are based on (Article) 153 must be reasonable and they must be discussed,” he said.
Azmi’s views are consistent with the the National Unity Consultative Council’s proposed bill on discrimination, which would require Putrajaya to justify Bumiputera quotas not specifically mentioned in the constitution.
Azmi also stressed that words Malay “special rights” do not appear in the Federal Constitution, and pointed out that Article 153 only mentions the “special position” of the Malays and the natives of Sabah and Sarawak.
“When people say 'our rights', what rights? The Federal Constitution doesn't mention 'special rights',” he said.
Malay “special rights” are regularly used by conservative groups from the community to demand the retention of pro-Bumiputera policies despite many of these deriving from the New Economic Policy (NEP) rather than the constitution.
Legal experts have said that the “special position” of the Malays and Bumiputera does not supersede any other provisions in the Federal Constitution and there exist other important elements in the nations law that guarantees the rights of non-Muslim, non-Malay Malaysians, such as guarantee of citizenship and fundamental liberties.
- See more at: http://www.themalaymailonline.com/malaysia/article/pro-bumi-privileges-the-odd-one-out-in-equality-under-constitution-says-law#sthash.w2QyUCpk.dpuf

ILO says forced labour is unacceptable


September 19, 2014
The International Labour Organization says incidences of forced labour must be urgently addressed.
malaysia-human-trafficking-2009-7-27-1-40-25PETALING JAYA: The widespread practice of forced labour in Malaysia has alarmed the International Labour Organization (ILO) whose Regional Office for Asia and the Pacific (ROAP) have said this practice must “be urgently addressed”.
To this end, the ILO has begun working with the Malaysian Employers Federation (MEF) to develop guidelines on the recruitment and placement of migrant workers.
The ILO also said, “More can be done to make it easier for migrants to change employers, to protect their rights to join trade unions…”
The MEF has also made a number of recommendations to the government in regard to reducing abuses, cutting costs and making the recruitment process fairer and more transparent.
Referring to the vulnerability of migrant workers, the ILO said the Malaysian government and employers must scrutinise and review recruitment as well as employment practices and policies.
Apart from recommending more thorough discussions on migration policies by all relevant parties, the ILO have also put in a draft bill that pushes for the tightening of regulations of private employment agencies, including outsourcing agencies.
The ILO has thus far “supported the training of some Malaysian government labour inspectors, to recognise and deal with human trafficking for labour exploitation” and is further prepared “to provide further help to tackle these unacceptable abuses”.
Apart from the ILO and the MEF, the Malaysian Trades Union Congress (MTUC) has long been advocating for better policies, and through their migrant worker resource centres has helped individuals obtain access to justice.

~ Free Malaysia Today

Netizens assert that Sarawak and Sabah are equal partners


Posted on September 19, 2014, Friday

KUCHING: The warning by Prime Minister Datuk Seri Najib Razak against talk of secession has spawned assertions that Sarawak should be taken as an equal partner in the formation of Federation of Malaysia instead of being one of the 13 states.

In response to the front page story of The Borneo Post ‘Pledge to safeguard sovereignty’, netizens in Sarawak and Sabah argued that the 18-point agreement signed to safeguard the interest of Sarawak had not been honoured.

A borneopostonline reader Iskandar Zulbryner brought up the 18-point Agreement, the London Agreement and the Inter-Governmental Reports, asserting that safeguards of the interests of Sarawak and Sabah in these agreements had not been fulfilled by the federal government.

He stressed that Sarawak was not one of the 13 states in Malaysia but an equal partner with Sabah and the then Federation of Malaya in the nation of Malaysia. And as an equal partner, interests of Sarawakians must be safeguarded and the covenants made must be honoured and fulfilled.

Quoting Points 2, 8, 12 and 15, he argued that education must return to be under Sarawak as Sarawakians “cannot continue to subject their children to the eroding quality of the Malaysian education system and the declining standard of English in schools”.

Iskandar also condemned the situation where Sarawakians’ religious freedom had been undermined by extremists, racist and religious bigots in Peninsular Malaysia.

He said Sarawak natives have been confronted with divisive issues such as Malay supremacy political ideology and the dispute over use of the word ‘Allah’ in churches apart from the fact that the federal government had failed to honour ‘Borneonisation’ of the civil service in Sarawak.

“There are enough qualified Sarawak natives to fill government positions so as to balance the racial composition within the civil service but the lack of meritocracy for recruitment and promotion in the civil service has marginalised the indigenous people of Sarawak.”

On native land issue, he said the federal government had not done enough to safeguard Dayak land rights as stated in the UN Declaration on the Rights of the Indigenous People.

Describing the state’s trunk road as ‘kampung roads’ and rural development as ‘poor’, he said the imbalance of infrastructure development between Sarawak and Peninsular Malaysia has been widening.

Another netizen Lynn Cheang responded that Najib had not been listening hard enough to Sarawakians. To her, not mentioning the anniversary year of independence from the British which Najib promised was not enough.

She asserted that the 18-point Agreement (or 20-point Agreement for Sabah) should be honoured and points 1,2,8, 11 and 15 should be honoured immediately.


Read more: http://www.theborneopost.com/2014/09/19/netizens-assert-that-sarawak-and-sabah-are-equal-partners/#ixzz3DkgYpcOS

Let's count down on the Sedition Act crackdown

12:57PM Sep 19, 2014
By Wong Chin Huat

COMMENT Granted, many people are both angered and scared by the Najib Abdul Razak administration’s crackdown using the Sedition Act.

The victims are increasingly diverse, ranging from politicians, activists, students, a scholar, ulama, and a lawyer to overseas Malaysians. The ‘no-go zones’ underlined by the ‘Sedition Act’ are also expanding widely, from Race (ethnic) relations, Religion, Royalty, (PM’s wife) Rosmah Mansor to Regional Self-determination.

We are facing a predator of freedom in the form of the Sedition Act, which is no different from our ancestors million years ago facing predators of their lives in the form of wild beasts.

That is the so-called ‘fight or flight’ situation - anger prepares us to fight while fear drives us to flight. It’s this survival instinct that kept our ancestors alive and makes possible our existence.

To fight and win, and not resorting to flight, is like a herd of poor antelopes running for their lives from a charging lion. We must therefore analyse and understand our fear. Fear is what warns us of dangers but it might also be what leads to our slavery.

We are fearful because we have been counting up. It’s time we should start counting down!

The law of diminishing returns

Counting down means recognising that there is a maximum number of people that the Sedition Act can victimise before the villains find themselves at the losing end.

In other words, if a crackdown of dissidents is a good thing for an unpopular regime, too much of a good thing will nevertheless be bad for it.

Students of economics call such a phenomenon - whereby too much of a good thing may be bad - “the law of diminishing returns”.

In production, if other conditions remain the same, increasing the quantity of only a certain input (labour, capital or land) may increase the output faster and faster at the beginning.

Then the increase of output slows down with increase of every additional unit of that input. And, after some  point, additional input will even lead to a decrease in the total output.

The Law of Diminishing Returns applies on the Sedition Act, too.

If the Act is a mad gunman taking hostage a group of unarmed civilians, then he has a limited number of bullets.

Once he runs out of bullets, he will be captured. To control his hostages, he must use his bullets rather prudently. Only then can he can effectively threaten the hostages to obey his orders.

The gunman’s power depends on the deadliness of the bullets, the willingness of the hostages to sacrifice themselves so that others may be free, and eventually, the relative size of the number of the bullets and the number of hostages.

If the gunman’s bullets are unlimited, or deadly enough to convince the civilians to give up resistance, he can potentially create a government.

Historically, the ruthlessness of Mongolians, Manchurians and Japanese in suppressing their conquered populations was a key factor how they could establish huge empires with relatively small numbers of troops.

Do I sound seditious in comparing tyranny with criminals? Oh, sorry, American political scientist Charles Tilly has completely convinced me that war-making and state-making are butorganised crime.

Najib's crackdown limit: 100-300?

Now, how many people can he Sedition Act dragnet catch before majority of the people think that the Najib administration is completely mad and becomes an intolerable tyranny?

Let’s go to the extreme. It surely cannot be more than 50 percent of the population plus one person.

Otherwise, we will have more people who are caught by the Sedition Act dragnet than those who are free. By then, being seditious would be a norm and not being seditious would be an anomaly.

The Najib administration cannot even crack down on just 1 percent of the population to warn the other 99 percent. Why? With a population of 30 million, 1 percent would mean 30,000.

Can you imagine how Malaysians and the world would react if 30,000 people are rounded up for sedition?

So, what is realistically the maximum number of Sedition Act victims? I will put it at most 300, but more likely 100-150.

In 1987, the government nabbed 106  dissidents in the notorious Operasi Lalang.

The political climate in 1980s was much more different - the world then had the Cold War but not cool social media, and Malaysia was arguably much more divided on ethnic lines, hence authoritarianism was much more legitimate.

This means, the Dr Mahathir Mohamad administration could potentially detain much more than 106 - perhaps thousands - before exhausting its own legitimacy.

However, it did not has to because the arrest of 106 successfully drove Malaysians into fear and subjugation (although one may argue that the Operasi Lalang may have contributed to the electoral revolt against BN in 1990, almost ending Mahathir’s rule.)

Given today’s world and Najib’s weak leadership, he can hardly afford an arrest of 106 without being stripped of any remaining pretense as a reformist or a moderate, both domestically and internationally.

A gigantic rally like the much awaited Bersih 4.0 by some can easily be triggered. And all the fiascos at the side of Pakatan Rakyat would look harmless hiccups.

Give the victims bullet-proof vests

But exactly how many is too many depends on amongst others, two questions: how much harm the Sedition Act can cause; and, how strongly the Sedition Act is hated.

And these two are actually inter-related: if the price is less, more people can afford to be brave. On the contrary, if the price is high, then few will dare to bite the bullets.

In that sense, the image of Ali Abdul Jalil smiling broadly when being handcuffed and accompanied by a stern-looking policeman is highly seditious.

Smiling Ali was so at ease that he looked like the victor in the game, and police the loser. Now, when you don’t fear a bad law, a bad law is rendered a sheet of paper.

The prosecution should really charge him for sedition. Legally speaking, ‘seditious tendency’ is committed when you incite hatred towards the political system.

In Ali’s (left) smile, don’t you feel his contempt for the system and don’t you hate the system? At least I do. Ali is so inspiring for all trouble-makers in this country. After all, who say you can only incite hatred by cursing “celaka” like (Penang assemblyperson) RSN Rayer and not smiling charmingly like Ali?

More than law scholar Azmi Sharom, Smiling Ali is therefore indeed the most powerful poster boy of the Gerakan Mansuhkan Akta Hasutan (GHAH - in my humble opinion, please don’t pronounce it in a mouthful as G.H.A.H., but forcefully as GHARRGH!)

Slapped with eight counts of charges under the Sedition Act, Smiling Ali even refused to be bailed out.

We however shouldn’t expect others to be as brave as Ali. What we should work towards is building a net of legal, financial and social support for the Sedition Act victims and their families, so that everyone arrested and charged under the Sedition Act can smile as seditiously as Ali!

Such a net of support would be like a bullet-proof vest for the victims-to-be of the gunman. When bullets cannot kill you, then every bullet fired at you should be celebrated rather than feared.

This is what I mean by “counting down” rather than "counting up". We must psychologically deny Bukit Aman any joy of crackdown and in fact turn the table around.

Every additional person caught by the Sedition Act dragnet should be an alarm to the IGP and his political masters that their bullets are depleting.  They should have nightmares, not us.

These bullet-proof vests of course won’t be cheap. Not only we need to have enough lawyers to represent on the pro-bono basis potentially 100-300 victims, and organise countless vigils, we also need to prepare a big sum of money as bail money.

If the bail money ruled for another victim Safwan Anang, RM 15,000, is made the benchmark, then the anti-Sedition Act movement should enlist enough “sponsors” to be ready with some RM 1.5 to RM 4.5 million.

Only then, we can invite more people to “continue to incite”.

RM1.5 million to RM4.5 million is certainly not a small amount, but won’t it be very cheap if that is the price for Malaysia’s real independence?

Merdeka! Merdeka! Merdeka!


WONG CHIN HUAT earned his PhD from the University of Essex with a thesis on the electoral system and party system in peninsular Malaysia. A fellow at the Penang Institute, he and his colleagues work on the 1946 question of nation-building and multiculturalism.

~ Malaysiakini

Adam Adli gets 12 months' jail for sedition

9:17AM Sep 19, 2014
By Hafiz Yatim

The Sessions Court in Kuala Lumpur has jailed former student leader Adam Adli Abdul Halim to 12 months, having found him guilty of sedition.

The court found Adam Adli's testimony to be a bare denial.

The Sessions Court Judge Mat Ghani Abdullah said that the prosecution had proven its case beyond reasonable doubt.

Adam Adli was accused of making the seditious statement during a post-elections ceramah at the Kuala Lumpur and Selangor Chinese Assembly Hall, urging the toppling of the Umno and BN government.

Earlier, his lawyer, Latheefa Koya (right in photo), in mitigation said that this was Adam Adli's first offence and is still studying law at a private college. 
A first offender under Section 4(1) of the Sedition Act is  liable to a maximum fine of RM5,000 or a maximum  three-year jail  term.

She asked that the court impose only a fine as no one was hurt as a result of what her client had said.

However, DPP Mohd Abazafree Mohd Abbas asked for a custodial sentence, as what Adam Adli had said in urging the toppling of a legitimate government was serious.

"The public demands that the sentence serve as a deterrent for others as Adam is bright and he fought for democracy and knows that a change of government should be done through democratic means," said Abazafree.

Public uproar over charging of activists

Another of Adam Adli's counsel, N Surendran, in stating that a fine should suffice as punishment, said there has been a public uproar over the recent charging of activists and opposition politicians with sedition.

He pointed out that attorney-general, Abdul Gani Patail, had issued a statement on Sept 10 that the chambers is reviewing all cases of sedition ,including that of Universiti Malaya academician Azmi Sharom.

Sessions judge Mat Ghani, after hearing arguments from both sides, allowed stay of the sentence and maintained bail at RM5,000.

Also present in the public gallery were Adam Adli's parents, Bersih 2.0 chairperson Maria Chin Abdullah and PSM secretary-general S Arutchelvam.  

Besides Adam Adli, those who were charged with sedition from the same forum were Batu MP and PKR vice-president Tian Chua, PAS' Tamrin Ghafar, student leader Mohd Safwan Anang, activist and lawyer Haris Ibrahim, and activist Hishamuddin Rais.

Mohd Safwan was sentenced earlier this month with 10 months' jail.

Speaking to reporters outside the court, Latheefa said they will file a notice of appeal within 30 days and hoped to get the grounds of judgment soon.

“This is a sad day for upholding freedom of expression as we want to know what constitutes sedition as deemed by the judge. In the past, it has been arbitrary,” she said.

Procedure-wise, after filing the notice of appeal, the lawyers will have to file a memorandum of appeal stating the grounds of the appeal.


~ Malaysiakini

Thursday, September 18, 2014

Sabah Christians tell Putrajaya to stop interfering in their religion

 BY DESMOND DAVIDSON


The use of the word Allah in the Bahasa Malaysia Bible, AlKitab, in Sabah and Sarawak is one of the ways that Putrajaya is interfering with freedom of religion, say Bumiputera Christians. - The Malaysian Insider pic, September 17, 2014.




















The use of the word Allah in the Bahasa Malaysia Bible, AlKitab, in Sabah and Sarawak is one of the ways that Putrajaya is interfering with freedom of religion, say Bumiputera Christians. - The Malaysian Insider pic, September 17, 2014. 


Christians in Sabah, already hard pressed in fending off attempts to convert Bumiputera Christians to Islam, have told Putrajaya to leave non-Muslims alone to manage their respective faiths and that laws enacted for the administration of Islam should not be applied to non-Muslims nor should non-Muslims be subject to Shariah law.
They said while Islam is the religion of the federation, people of other religions and faiths should have “the constitutional right and freedom to profess, practise, propagate and manage their respective faiths without interference and intervention by the state”.
They claimed that while freedom of religion is guaranteed by the Federal Constitution and is also set out in the 18- and 20-point conditions of Sarawak and Sabah respectively, to be part of the Malaysia Agreement, “the legislative, executive and judiciary have trampled upon such rights of people of other faiths by making laws and decisions that militate against such freedom”.
Citing the prohibition of the usage of the word ‘Allah’ by Bumiputera Christians to refer to God and the restricted ban on the use of the AlKitab – the Bahasa Malaysia version of the Bible – since the early 1980s, they said this was a gross violation of human rights.
In their 30-point Kota Kinabalu Declaration at the end of a three-day “mamangkis” held at the Kadazan Dusun Cultural Association in Penampang, Sabah Christians also accused the judiciary of being “increasingly more inclined to defend the supremacy of race and religion than to abide by their oath of office to defend the supremacy of the constitution”.
The mamangkis, which was organised to coincide with Malaysia Day, was an old Kadazandusun war cry used by their pagan ancestors to rally warrior troops for battle but a new mamangkis movement spearheaded by Perpaduan Anak Negeri (PAN) is now making it a Christian clarion call for revival.
Following the feud over the use of the word Allah, the Sabah churches said the state, including Islamic agencies and the sultans as heads of Islam in their respective states, must not intervene in other faiths.
The declaration also stated that “the proliferation of oppressive laws that violates our fundamental civil liberties continues unabated”.
They pointed to the trampling of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights that gives recognition to the inherent dignity and of the equal rights of all people.
They also said the legislative, executive and the judiciary must restore “just, fair, and democratic principles of governance as envisaged by the framers of our Constitution and our founding fathers”.
“The Federal Constitution shall be the supreme law in the nation and all citizens have equal protection under the law and any other form of supremacy is clearly ultra vires the Constitution and unacceptable.”
The Sabah churches also defended the rights of the indigenous Orang Asal communities in Peninsular Malaysia when it said it was timely after half a century of “unjust exclusion, the rights of the indigenous Orang Asal communities must be given due recognition with utmost urgency” under Article 153 of the Constitution.
They said while Article 153 accords special position and privileges to Peninsular Malays and indigenous peoples of Sabah and Sarawak, the Orang Asal are excluded from such protection.
“While the special position of the Malays and natives of Malaysia shall be safeguarded, it is timely that the legitimate interests of other communities in Malaysia be equally observed and upheld in accordance with the provisions of Article 153.”
In signing the declaration, Sabah Council of Churches president Bishop Datuk Dr Thomas Tsen, National Evangelical Christian Fellowship–Commission of Sabah Affairs chairman Reverend Datuk Jerry Dusing, PAN chairman Pastor Esther Golingi, and Pastors Fellowship of Kota Kinabalu English and Chinese leader Pastor Steven Choon and Pastor Daniel Chin, also pledged their commitment to defend the sovereignty of Malaysia as a federation composed of Sabah, Sarawak and Malaya.  – September 17, 2014.
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Terror funds sent to Malaysia, says Aussie paper


BY LOOI SUE-CHERN Australians are reported fighting with the Islamic State in Iraq and Syria (Isis) and have been receiving funding from their home country, reports say today. – Reuters pic, September 18, 2014.

Australians are reported fighting with the Islamic State in Iraq and Syria (Isis) and have been receiving funding from their home country, reports say today. – Reuters pic, September 18, 2014.
Australian police are investigating a remittance company linked to the family of a convicted terrorist over "missing funds" worth AUS$9 million (RM26.1 million) that may have been used to finance Australians fighting with the Islamic State in Iraq and Syria (Isis), with some of it sent to individuals in Malaysia.

The Australian reported earlier today that authorities were concerned that the company Bisotel Rieh Global Money Transfer, which specialises in remittances to the Middle East, may have sent funds to Mohamed Elomar, a companion of convicted terrorist Khaled Sharrouf in Syria. Both are Isis fighters.
The two men, who reportedly left Australia late last year, had travelled to Syria together via transit in Malaysia.
The authorities are also probing into the company's fund transfers to individuals in Malaysia. Employees had admitted that the company "actively smuggles" money from Turkey into Lebanon.


Meantime, the Australian finance intelligence and compliance agency Austrac has suspended Bisotel Rieh, which operates in Lakemba, western Sydney, after the company failed to declare the AUS$9 million transferred out of the country between January and August.
Austrac chief executive John Schmidt was quoted by The Australian as saying: “The figures don’t appear to match".
“It’s a fairly big difference in a short space of time. We are satisfied that the continued registration... may involve a significant financing-of-terrorism risk," he told the daily.
Austrac released documents showing that the agency’s officers had visited the business in May and established that Bisotel Rieh had “arranged for bulk cash to be smuggled from Turkey into Lebanon”, apparently because it failed to access bank accounts in Lebanon.
The finding led to a larger probe into the company, which was subsequently discovered to have transferred about A$38,000 in three transactions to an unnamed individual in Malaysia.
At the same time, the company also made another transfer to Malaysia. This to Austrac was “seemingly coincidentally", The Australian reported.
It was reported that Bisotel Rieh, which also offers a travel service and has branches in Lakemba and Liverpool in southwestern Sydney in Australia, and Tripoli in Lebanon, has until tomorrow to explain itself, after which it will face a 40-day suspension followed by possible deregistration.
Khaled gained infamy when The Australian published pictures of his nine-year-old son posing with the severed head of a Syrian army soldier.
AFP reported that anti-terror raids across Sydney and Brisbane today were sparked by an Australian senior Isis militant, who ordered "demonstration killings" in Australia.
Prime Minister Tony Abbott said there was intelligence on planned public beheadings.
The agency reported that Australian police have conducted the country's biggest ever counter-terrorism operation, detaining 15 people and disrupting plans to “commit violent acts", including against random members of the public.  – September 18, 2014.
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Repeal Sedition Act and drop all charges, Amnesty International tells Putrajaya

BY LEE SHI-IAN


In a statement, Amnesty International said opposition lawmakers, human rights activists, lawyers, students, academics and journalists were all at risk of arbitrary arrest.

“There has been alarming use of the draconian and archaic Sedition Act in recent weeks,” it said, noting that the law was being used to silence critics.

“Putrajaya should immediately grant an unconditional release of all those who have been detained or imprisoned under the Sedition Act.

“These individuals were merely exercising their right to freedom of expression, hence Putrajaya is urged to immediately repeal the act as well.”

The global human rights body said it was concerned that the colonial-era law was being used to “criminalise a wide array of acts”.

Since the beginning of August, at least eight people have been charged and are at risk of imprisonment for making allegedly “seditious” statements under the Sedition Act.

Preacher Wan Ji Wan Hussin, site supervisor Chow Mun Fai, student Ali Abdul Jalil, politician David Orok, academician Dr Azmi Sharom, Padang Serai MP N. Surendran, Shah Alam MP Khalid Samad and Seri Delima state assemblyman R.S.N. Rayer have all fallen afoul of the Sedition Act.

They have been charged under Section 4 of the Sedition Act 1948 which criminalises the use of seditious words and publications.

The law defines seditious acts or words as having the “tendency to excite disaffection against any ruler or government” or to “question any matter protected by the Constitution”.

Those found guilty can face three years in prison, be fined up to RM5,000 or both.

Amnesty International said the Sedition Act did not comply with international human rights law and standards and violated the right to freedom of expression.

“Freedom of expression is enshrined in Article 19 of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights (UDHR), and also guaranteed in Article 10 of the Malaysian Constitution.”

Two people who have been convicted under the Sedition Act since the start of 2013 are former student leader Muhammad Safwan Anang and politician P. Uthayakumar.

Safwan was sentenced to 10 months in prison for making seditious comments made at a rally in May 2013, and is currently on bail pending appeal.

Uthayakumar is serving 24 months in Kajang prison after being found guilty of sedition in June 2013 for publishing allegedly “seditious” material in 2007.

Amnesty International called on human activists around the world to write in appeal to Putrajaya to repeal the Sedition Act and release all those who had been imprisoned. – September 18, 2014.

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